The below message is from Kody H. Kinsley, Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health & IDD, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services:
Restrictions on communal dining, group activities, and visitation in long-term care settings were put in place to protect residents who are often in a high-risk category for serious complications from COVID-19. At the same time, we recognize these restrictions have consequences to the overall health and well-being of residents and their families. We strongly encourage the continued use of technology to keep connected as much as possible. However, to balance the needs of families and residents to see each other, with the need to protect residents from COVID-19, DHHS has released updated guidance to facilities on outdoor visitation, communal dining and other indoor activities depending on the type of facility.
- Adult care homes/assisted living, Group homes, and Intermediate Care Facilities with 7 or more beds are permitted to have outdoor visits if they meet certain criteria, per guidance: Guidance on Outdoor Visitation for Larger Residential Settings (Adult Care Homes, Behavioral Health/IDD, Intermediate Care Facilities, Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities).
- Facilities with 6 or fewer beds such as family care homes, or group homes can determine their policies related to visitation, communal dining, and outside or group activities per guidance: Guidance for Smaller Residential Settings Regarding Visitation, Communal Dining, Group and Outside Activities
- Visitation is currently prohibited in skilled-nursing facilities (nursing homes) and combination skilled-nursing facilities/adult care homes except for compassionate care reasons, including but not limited to end-of-life reasons. While compassionate care situations are not limited to end-of-life situations, these visits should not be routine, and allowed on a limited basis as an exception to restricting visitation.
We are continuously examining data and trends and reassessing guidance and policies to balance the needs of residents and families to resume activities with the need to protect residents from COVID-19 and its complications.